Horizon Europe: UK Participation

Lord Krebs Excerpts
Tuesday 31st January 2023

(1 year, 5 months ago)

Lords Chamber
Read Full debate Read Hansard Text Watch Debate Read Debate Ministerial Extracts
Lord Callanan Portrait Lord Callanan (Con)
- View Speech - Hansard - - - Excerpts

The noble Viscount needs to take that message to the EU. The Government stand ready to implement the agreement that we freely entered into; it is the EU that is refusing to do so. I agree with the noble Viscount that Horizon Europe has been very valuable. That is why we entered into an agreement—the TCA—to continue our association, but the EU refuses to progress it.

Lord Krebs Portrait Lord Krebs (CB)
- View Speech - Hansard - -

My Lords, first, does the Minister recognise that, when we were members of Horizon, we took out more money than we put in because of the excellence of our proposals? Does the Government’s plan B—if we do not associate with Horizon—include the extra money that we got from the European Union from other EU countries? Secondly, does the Minister agree that, when we were members of Horizon, we gained membership from our leadership role in designing research programmes and shaping the future of Horizon? What is the Government’s estimate of the loss to UK science of the lack of that leadership role?

Lord Callanan Portrait Lord Callanan (Con)
- View Speech - Hansard - - - Excerpts

My Lords, the Government need no convincing about the benefits of association with Horizon Europe. We benefited from it. The UK has eight universities in the top 50 globally; the EU has only six. It is a multifaceted programme; exchanges benefit both sides. We were of the view that association would be a good idea; that is why we entered into the agreement. We still hope that the EU will have second thoughts.

Battery Strategy (Science and Technology Committee Report)

Lord Krebs Excerpts
Wednesday 23rd November 2022

(1 year, 8 months ago)

Grand Committee
Read Full debate Read Hansard Text Read Debate Ministerial Extracts
Lord Krebs Portrait Lord Krebs (CB)
- Hansard - -

My Lords, one advantage of coming near the end of the list is that many of the things one was going to say have already been said by others, and I can summarise by saying “I agree”. However, I start by thanking our chairman, the noble Lord, Lord Patel, for his excellent chairmanship of the committee and reiterate the thanks to our specialist adviser Professor Clare Grey for her advice and guidance.

We were told in our inquiry that the availability of raw materials is one of the main limiting factors for battery manufacture, and the noble Lord, Lord Lilley, has given such an articulate and comprehensive summary of the situation that I do not need to say anything more about it, other than to take just one example from the FT on Monday, an article about graphite, a crystalline form of carbon. Every EV contains 25 kilos of graphite —so quite a lot of it. Demand is predicted to rise threefold in the next four years. The price of graphite has gone up by one-third in the past year, 65% of the world’s graphite is currently mined in China and 85% of the graphite is processed in China, which speaks to the point mentioned by the noble Lord, Lord Mitchell, about dependence on certain countries for supplies.

I want to focus on another aspect of the supply chain, which is the fact that the raw materials often come from countries with poor human rights records and poor environmental standards, so when you step into your EV and drive off, do you think about the fact that the cobalt in the battery may have been mined using child labour in the DRC? Do you think that most of the raw materials in your battery might have contributed to serious pollution of the environment as well as damage to human health? For instance, we were told that in South America the extraction of lithium from brine uses large volumes of water and can lead to contamination of both the aquatic and terrestrial environments.

As has already been mentioned, against this background, we made two recommendations. We asked the Government to produce a critical raw materials strategy in order to plan for future supply issues, and we also asked the Government to set out plans for industrial-scale recycling and to require manufacturers to conduct a full life cycle analysis of the environmental and social impacts of batteries.

As the noble Lord, Lord Patel, and other noble Lords have mentioned, we now have a critical raw materials strategy, but I am told that it is a high-level document without a detailed road map for implementation. Equally, the critical minerals intelligence centre established under the strategy at the British Geological Survey has, I am told by scientists from the BGS, no clear remit, so will the Minister tell us when the road map will be published and when the purpose of the intelligence centre will be defined?

I now turn to recycling, which has already been mentioned by the noble Baroness, Lady Sheehan, and the noble Lord, Lord Teverson. Northvolt, the Swedish battery maker, has said that by 2030 it will have developed three gigafactories with a combined annual output to power more than 2 million electric vehicles and that these factories will obtain half their raw materials from recycling. Will the Minister update us on the UK’s level of ambition for recycling? Does it match that of Northvolt? The Government’s response on this was extremely vague, with reference to an inter- disciplinary circular economy centre funded by UKRI, but no specific targets or dates for recycling.

We also asked the Government to introduce incentives and regulations to speed the transition to more sustainable manufacturing. The European Union proposes to introduce legislation on recycled material in batteries by 2030 and for all batteries sold in EVs in the EU to declare their carbon footprint by 2024. Therefore, I ask the Minister whether the UK intends to use its Brexit freedom to go further and faster than the EU, or use it to lag behind—or are we intending to follow the EU’s requirements?

As many other speakers have said, EVs are undoubtedly crucial for our trajectory towards net zero, but they come with costs as well as benefits—and I have referred to the social and environmental impacts of sourcing the raw materials. I now want to refer briefly to another kind of cost. EVs are typically about 30% heavier than their petrol or diesel equivalents. Furthermore, the most popular models of EV in the UK are nearly all SUVs. The result of this is that our city streets are becoming increasingly populated by large, heavy vehicles. Can the Minister tell us what assessments the Government have made of the consequences of this for, first, damage to road surfaces, especially in urban areas and, secondly, the safety of other drivers, pedestrians and cyclists? Furthermore, as a result of these assessments, are the Government considering following jurisdictions in the US such as Iowa and New York, and countries such as France, all of which have introduced, or are planning to introduce, an extra tariff for vehicles above a certain weight?

In asking these questions, I declare an interest as a daily cyclist in Oxford, where the combination of potholes and tank-like SUVs on the narrow streets presents a serious hazard to those of us who chose a transport method with an even lower environmental footprint than electric vehicles. I look forward to the Minister’s response.

India: Cereals Export Ban

Lord Krebs Excerpts
Thursday 19th May 2022

(2 years, 2 months ago)

Lords Chamber
Read Full debate Read Hansard Text Read Debate Ministerial Extracts
Lord Grimstone of Boscobel Portrait Lord Grimstone of Boscobel (Con)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

My Lords, my department has taken strong action in relation to this, either reducing or eliminating tariffs from Ukraine, which was obviously the right thing to do in the terrible situation facing the people of Ukraine.

Lord Krebs Portrait Lord Krebs (CB)
- Hansard - -

My Lords, in light of the shortages of grain we have been hearing about in the last few minutes, do Her Majesty’s Government have a view on whether domestic production of grain should be increased and, if so, how the increase in domestic production should be reconciled with other commitments that the Government have made in relation to land use, such as protecting and enhancing biodiversity and sequestering carbon?

Lord Grimstone of Boscobel Portrait Lord Grimstone of Boscobel (Con)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

My Lords, food security is, of course, immensely important, and no more important than at the present time. We are fortunate in this country in that we grow most of the wheat that we consume, and I am sure that the lessons that we should all learn from the need for resilience is to boost domestic production wherever possible.

Climate Change

Lord Krebs Excerpts
Tuesday 29th June 2021

(3 years ago)

Lords Chamber
Read Full debate Read Hansard Text Read Debate Ministerial Extracts
Lord Callanan Portrait Lord Callanan (Con)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

The noble Baroness should read the Climate Change Committee report, which itself recognises the ongoing demand for oil and natural gas, including in all scenarios for how the UK will meet its target for achieving net-zero emissions by 2050.

Lord Krebs Portrait Lord Krebs (CB) [V]
- Hansard - -

I declare my interests as recorded in the register. The Climate Change Committee has been saying for the past decade that there is a gap between the Government’s rhetoric and the reality in actions to cut greenhouse gas emissions. This year the chief executive, Chris Stark, said that

“progress is illusory. Government strategy has been late and what has come has almost all been too little.”

In this context, what action will the Government take, and when, on aviation and dietary change, as recommended by the Climate Change Committee?

Lord Callanan Portrait Lord Callanan (Con)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

As I said in my earlier answer, the noble Lord will have to be a little bit patient and wait for the sector strategies that are coming out, which will help to address his point—but I do not accept that we have not done anything. We have taken action on transport with a £5 billion package and we have spent £3 billion on buildings and £1 billion on carbon capture, et cetera, et cetera. So we have done a lot, but I totally accept that we have much to do.

Biomass Electricity Subsidies: Deforestation

Lord Krebs Excerpts
Thursday 20th May 2021

(3 years, 2 months ago)

Lords Chamber
Read Full debate Read Hansard Text Read Debate Ministerial Extracts
Lord Callanan Portrait Lord Callanan (Con)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

The sustainability criteria are policed by Ofgem and, if firms do not meet them, the subsidies are withdrawn.

Lord Krebs Portrait Lord Krebs (CB) [V]
- Hansard - -

My Lords, I declare my interests as recorded in the register. This is a contested topic with opposing views. The devil is in the detail, and rigorous scientific analysis is crucial. In this context, is the Minister aware of the independent analysis published in March 2021 by Resources for the Future showing that, in the south-eastern United States, demand for forest products such as biomass is associated with an increase in the area of forest in the region, as well as with a 30% increase in carbon storage in those forests over the past few decades?

Lord Callanan Portrait Lord Callanan (Con)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

Indeed. The noble Lord is an expert on this topic and is of course correct. He is also correct to say that this is an area of ongoing debate among the scientific community, and it is one that my department is following very closely by gathering the evidence. The latest scientific data will form part of our forthcoming biomass strategy.

Climate Change Committee: Carbon Budget Report

Lord Krebs Excerpts
Tuesday 16th March 2021

(3 years, 4 months ago)

Lords Chamber
Read Full debate Read Hansard Text Read Debate Ministerial Extracts
Lord Callanan Portrait Lord Callanan (Con)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

It is important that we get cross-departmental working going correctly. Obviously, the pandemic has resulted in some challenges in this area, but we are devoting considerable attention across government committees, and different departments are engaging with each other to try to get that message across. I agree with the noble Lord that there needs to be consistent messaging, and we need to get all of government focused on this effort.

Lord Krebs Portrait Lord Krebs (CB) [V]
- Hansard - -

My Lords, to get to net zero we need to encourage people to switch from cars to walking and cycling for local journeys. In this context, how does the average investment in local infrastructure in the UK to support this transition compare with places such as Copenhagen, where this has been done successfully, with about 50% of journeys on foot or bike? Secondly, my local authority, Oxfordshire County Council, is proposing changes that will increase car traffic in residential urban side streets and therefore discourage walking and cycling. How will the Government respond to this?

Lord Callanan Portrait Lord Callanan (Con)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I am not aware of the specific changes proposed in Oxfordshire—I will certainly have a look at that—but there is a walking and cycling strategy. The Government have devoted considerable resources through the Department for Transport to encouraging both those modes of transport.

Green Homes Grant Scheme

Lord Krebs Excerpts
Wednesday 6th January 2021

(3 years, 6 months ago)

Lords Chamber
Read Full debate Read Hansard Text Read Debate Ministerial Extracts
Lord Callanan Portrait Lord Callanan (Con)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I cannot give the noble Lords a specific assurance on that. We keep all these matters under review.

Lord Krebs Portrait Lord Krebs (CB) [V]
- Hansard - -

My Lords, I thank the Minister and his officials for a very helpful meeting in the autumn on this topic. Can he confirm that the original requirement for applicants to use vouchers for at least one primary measure, before becoming eligible for a secondary measure, has now been removed?

Lord Callanan Portrait Lord Callanan (Con)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

No. At present, we keep the primary and secondary elements of the scheme, because we think that is the best way of delivering the maximum carbon savings that I know the noble Lord is also keen on. We keep the scheme under constant review and listen to suggestions for improvements from him and others on how we can make it more effective. The noble Lord’s feedback is valuable, and I will bear it in mind.

Carbon-neutral Homes

Lord Krebs Excerpts
Thursday 10th December 2020

(3 years, 7 months ago)

Lords Chamber
Read Full debate Read Hansard Text Read Debate Ministerial Extracts
Lord Callanan Portrait Lord Callanan (Con)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

We are consulting on these matters at the moment. The noble Baroness makes a very good point and I happily pay tribute to the work that National Energy Action does.

Lord Krebs Portrait Lord Krebs (CB) [V]
- Hansard - -

[Inaudible]—climate change risk assessment concludes that the risks from overheating in residential and public buildings as a result of climate change are a top priority for urgent action. Can the Minister update us on progress in reducing this risk, and explain what the Government meant when the noble Baroness said on Tuesday that the Committee on Climate Change’s recommendations for the most cost-effective path for getting to net zero by 2050 are

“often a bit more ambitious than our plans”?—[Official Report, 8/12/20; col. 1109.]

Lord Callanan Portrait Lord Callanan (Con)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I did not hear the first part of the noble Lord’s question as he was cut off. On the second part, I have not seen the remarks that he refers to, so I shall write to him on that.

Committee on Climate Change: Progress Report

Lord Krebs Excerpts
Wednesday 1st July 2020

(4 years ago)

Lords Chamber
Read Full debate Read Hansard Text Read Debate Ministerial Extracts
Lord Callanan Portrait Lord Callanan
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

As we recover from Covid-19, we certainly want to deliver a UK economy which is cleaner, stronger, more sustainable and more resilient. Covid-19 has been a powerful reminder of the UK’s vulnerability to systemic risks. Fortunately, job creation and a clean, resilient recovery can be mutually reinforcing, and meeting net zero and our other environmental goals can create employment and economic opportunities.

Lord Krebs Portrait Lord Krebs (CB) [V]
- Hansard - -

My Lords, I refer to my interests in the register. Yesterday, the Met Office published a new study that concludes that, under some scenarios, temperatures of 40 degrees Celsius could occur regularly by the end of the century. Can the Minister tell us, now or in writing, what proportion of buildings in the UK are designed to cope with those temperatures and whether all new buildings, including homes, schools and hospitals, will be built to cope with extreme heat?

Lord Callanan Portrait Lord Callanan
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

As I said in an earlier answer, we will set out our plans for a heat and building strategy in due course, but I would be happy to respond in writing to the noble Lord’s detailed question about the proportion required.

Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies

Lord Krebs Excerpts
Tuesday 28th April 2020

(4 years, 2 months ago)

Lords Chamber
Read Full debate Read Hansard Text Read Debate Ministerial Extracts
Lord Callanan Portrait Lord Callanan
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

As I said earlier, SAGE does not have a specific membership. The people attending SAGE vary depending on the subjects under discussion; something like 100 participants in total can be called on. BEIS holds a central list of appropriate experts in the different sciences, academia and industry. They are brought into particular meetings when their expertise is required, and that is the call of the Chief Medical Officer and the Government’s Chief Scientific Adviser.

Lord Krebs Portrait Lord Krebs (CB)
- Hansard - -

My Lords, as the Minister will be aware, the process of providing scientific advice is set out in the Government’s chief scientist guidelines. Three key principles of these guidelines are: an open and transparent approach; a full acknowledgement of uncertainty; and to draw on a wide range of expert advice. What is the Minister’s assessment of how well these guidelines are being applied during the Covid-19 epidemic?

Lord Callanan Portrait Lord Callanan
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

The Government’s Chief Scientific Adviser is confident that the role of SAGE is clear, that the business is conducted in an appropriately transparent and open manner, that the group is scientifically rigorous —having, as I said, more than 100 scientists ultimately feeding into it—and that it is totally independent of political interference.